Working Through The Pain with Chocolate and Chardonnay

Writing 101: Serially Lost

For today’s Writing 101 assignment I am re-blogging my original post from the June session of Writing 101. In June, I did not write the second or third post in the series. Couldn’t figure out a way to make it work; will try again this time around.

from the sticks to the bricks and back again

Sitting in the cold sterile hospital room waiting for my doctor to come speak to me, I remember the night you were conceived.  Your father and I had recently reconciled.

Your grandfather had passed away suddenly of a massive heart attack four months earlier.  The night before Papa’s funeral, your Dad, who has never handled stress or loss very well, announced he was leaving me after the funeral.   The sudden death of his Dad was telling him that there was something wrong with his life and we weren’t meant to be together.

Don’t try to make sense of that.  I lived through it and I don’t  completely understand his thought process.  At this point, four years into our relationship, I knew that when your Dad was upset the best thing I could do was assure him that I was there if he needed me and give him space.  Hovering and…

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Working Through The Pain with Chocolate and Chardonnay

Sitting in the cold sterile hospital room waiting for my doctor to come speak to me, I remember the night you were conceived.  Your father and I had recently reconciled.

Your grandfather had passed away suddenly of a massive heart attack four months earlier.  The night before Papa’s funeral, your Dad, who has never handled stress or loss very well, announced he was leaving me after the funeral.   The sudden death of his Dad was telling him that there was something wrong with his life and we weren’t meant to be together.

Don’t try to make sense of that.  I lived through it and I don’t  completely understand his thought process.  At this point, four years into our relationship, I knew that when your Dad was upset the best thing I could do was assure him that I was there if he needed me and give him space.  Hovering and expecting him to talk through it like my girlfriends and I did wasn’t going to help either one of us.  But, even I was surprised by his bombshell announcement.

Several months passed before he returned asking for my forgiveness.  On the night you were conceived, we were still in the honeymoon stage of our reconciliation.  When your father left the room to freshen our drinks, I lay there in the candlelight and conversed with God.  I knew  I was ovulating I told him and as I speak sperm is racing to my unfertilized eggs.  You have what you need to make this happen, but please only let this happen if I’m going to have a happy, healthy baby.  If I’m not going to carry full-term then don’t let this happen, I pleaded with him.  My prayers have long been conversations with God more often than the formal prayers of my Catholic upbringing.  When I missed my period, I knew that my prayers had been answered.  That and the incredible exhaustion.

In the months that followed, your father and I chose your name Kendra Raye after your two grandfathers.  Or Isaiah Ray had you been a boy, Ray being the middle name of your Dad and his Dad before him.  And, we planned your life.  There would be ballet classes and softball, picnics at Pope John Paul Park, summers at the beach, girls’ days at the salon with me, your aunt and cousins, your father would braid your hair,  and I would be in charge of your religious upbringing – Catholic with a healthy dose of Southern Baptist.

In my second trimester, we  started telling people other than family and the closest of our friends our news.  We followed the conventional wisdom of waiting until after that second trimester mark.  Most miscarriages happen during the first trimester.

When I got ready for work and my doctor’s appointment that morning, I was feeling lucky.  The signs of my pregnancy were there – your father lovingly observed how my shape had changed and my stomach hardened.  I felt good, hungry and tired, but good.  I was loving being pregnant.  I was not waddling but walking protectively – my arm always in front of my growing belly as I maneuvered crowded subway platforms or walked down stairs.

So often when bad news is coming, we are unaware that it lurks around the corner.  And that was the case that morning.  I was excited for my day ahead of me while admittedly annoyed , actually downright angry, with your father because he wasn’t going to the doctor’s appointment with me.

The doctor finally comes into the hospital room to talk with me.  His face shows no emotion.  “Lynne, we are sorry, “ he starts, “something went wrong, your baby is no longer moving.  We believe the baby, your pregnancy is no longer viable.”  I am left alone to compose myself.  The room is colder now and I am angry, angry at God, angry at your Dad while at the same time happy that he is not there exploding as each of the doctor’s words cut into my heart.

I call one of my sisters to tell her … I scare her with my unintelligible words.  I can’t breathe, I can’t utter words, all I can do is cry.  She offers to call your father for me – I ask her not to.  I don’t want to go home.  Yet, I can’t stay in the hospital room crying forever.  I must go home.  The doctor asks if I am safe at home fearing that the reason  I don’t want to go home is domestic violence.  I tell him that I am safe.  I don’t want to go home and break the heart of the man I love, I explain.  Telling your Dad what the doctor told me is without a doubt one of the most difficult things I’ve had to do.

I was supposed to return to the hospital the next day so that they could start me on a round of drugs that would induce a miscarriage like the morning after pill.  My sister tells me that I should wait, when she was pregnant with her oldest daughter, the baby stopped moving for several days but she was fine.  Her doctor, who is one of the top OB-Gyns in the country agrees to see me on that Friday.  He advises me not to get my hopes up, but that there is a possibility my doctor is wrong and he is willing to give me a second opinion.

I go to work the day in between trying to act normal.  It is fruitless.  I sit at my desk and cry.  I explain it to my boss and leave early that day after my closest co-workers and I cry in the ladies room.

The morning of the appointment for my second opinion, in the shower as my hand brushes across my stomach I notice it is no longer hard.  I know this means I really don’t need a second opinion.  I go anyway.  As the doctor examines me – the nurse notes that there  is no firmness.  I know this means my fears are true; they send me for an ultrasound.

My body holds on to you, refusing to expel your remains from my uterus. For a week, I fear waking up in blood or starting to miscarry at work.  Nothing happens.  It seems to me that you and I are in denial,  paralyzed by grief we can’t let go of each other.  My new doctor schedules me for a DNC.  The emotional pain is unbearable.

I am not sure how or why your father and I made it through this – each of us handling our grief differently.  He could not look at me – he stayed out as much as possible.  All I wanted was for him to hold me and cry with me.  Instead, I cried alone as I consumed equal amounts of  chardonnay and chocolate (M & M’s from the Nescafe jar full of candy coated chocolates that my Mom sent me home with).  Ironically, I gained more miscarriage weight than I did pregnancy weight.

A decade has since passed and there remains a hole in our lives that you were meant to occupy.

Geraniums make me smile ….

Mother’s Day came and went. And, I did step out of my comfort zone.  In the process, I think I may have stumbled across a tradition that I could embrace going forward.

My day started out with a call from my godson Michael and his sweet six-year old daughter, Kendra wishing me a Happy Mother’s Day.  I eased into my day and called my sisters wishing them a Happy Mother’s Day.

Several hours passed and still I had not decided what I would do with my day.  I finally called my aunt and wished her a Happy Mother’s Day.  Casually, I mentioned that I was thinking of going shopping at our local outdoor mall and asked her if she wanted to go with me.  We agreed to leave in an hour and I nonchalantly told her not to eat suggesting we could grab lunch while we were out.  I did not want to make a big deal out of this outing.  Normally, my aunt would be at my youngest sister’s house but she was on softball mom duty – one of my nieces was playing in a tournament all weekend.

My relationship with my aunt is complicated – she is my godmother and my mother’s baby sister but we are not what I would call close.  I’ve never shared with her any of my emotions about Mother’s Day and the anniversary of my mom’s death.  On the one hand, I’m sure she can relate as my grandmother died 11 years ago and made her a motherless daughter.  But on the other hand, my conversations with my aunt just aren’t of an emotional nature.  I would describe our relationship as one obligated by birth.  The reality of my asking her to spend a few hours on Mother’s Day afternoon with me had less to do with her and more to do with my mom.  Given the circumstances of my aunt’s failing health and the unavailability of her favorite niece, my mom would want me to step up and do something nice for her sister.

So off we went shopping, it wasn’t so bad.  There were no altercations with grown daughters being excessively rude to their mothers even in the department stores.   I bought my first Christmas present for one of my nieces and actually wrapped it.  It was a great deal that I won’t get in season closer to Christmas.  This purchase is very ironic because as I have mentioned I am a procrastinator and buying a Christmas gift this early is crazy early for even the most organized person.  I was always the daughter who came rushing into the house, bags of presents in tow, an hour maybe two before our family gathered for Christmas Eve looking for wrapping paper, tape and scissors.  My mom would get a good laugh out of this early purchase and that it is already wrapped.

We went to lunch not at one of the nicer restaurants but at my aunt’s choice of Friendly’s because the wait at the other restaurants was 25 – 30 minutes.  Although my palate wanted something more than a fast food restaurant, I must concede that Friendly’s was a great choice.  It was a perfectly safe restaurant for me to be at on Mother’s Day; there were no adult women with their mothers, the clientele was either families with young children or the very elderly.

geraniumsAfter lunch, I went to Home Depot while my aunt did her grocery shopping.  I bought some potting soil and geraniums to plant in pots and planters.  Also, earlier than I normally manage to complete, usually my best is the end of May/mid -June.  I love geraniums because my mother loved geraniums.  When I walk up my walkway and onto my front porch and see the geraniums lining the stairs and the windows, even after the most difficult day, they make me smile.  Geraniums remind me of my mom and make me think of happy memories and I can’t help but smile.

My trip to Home Depot revealed to me how I could spend Mother’s Days from now on: planting geraniums and smiling.  And I know as that Sunday begins to fade, I will still feel relief in knowing that another Mother’s Day is passing and Monday is about to come once again.

Motherless Daughters on Mothers Day

Since my Mom passed away eight years ago today, Mothers Day has been difficult to the say the least. The first Mothers Day after Mom died, was more than painful falling the day after we buried her in a torrential spring storm – a bona fide New England Nor’easter complete with strong winds, rain cascading from the skies as if to wash away our tears, and flooding that prevented us from holding her services graveside.

If it is true that the first set of holidays after a loved one passes is the most difficult then that first Mothers Day was especially difficult. My childhood home that had no less than 24 hours before been filled with the sounds of people – family and friends – was excruciatingly quiet. The walls seemed to ooze with the heaviness of our grief. I was alone in the house that seemed emptier than I’d ever known it to be. This simple ranch where my parents had raised four daughters was never quiet. My parents built the house on a plot of land that three generations of my mother’s family prior to my generation had gathered for family events and gatherings and it had never known so much quiet. But that day, my three sisters were each with their families and I had sent my other half off to be with his mother; assuring both of them that if I felt like I needed company I would join them. One of my best friends invited me to join her and her family that day; which would have been perfectly comfortable as her parents were like mine. We all knew, however, that I would stay where I felt I should be holding vigil in my mother’s house.

In the Mothers Days that have followed, I have learned that is best that I stay away from places where mothers and daughters gather such as nail salons, malls, and restaurants during the days around Mothering Sunday. It is in everyone’s best interest that I am not in a place where daughters might argue with their mothers. The week before the second Mothers Day after my Mom’s death, I had to abruptly leave a Marshalls store near my house. A mother was telling her daughter to try something on that the daughter who was about my age did not want to try on. The daughter was being as rude as the mother was being stubborn. I wanted to say, “Just try it on and you can laugh at how ugly it looks on you,” but instead I blurted out, “Don’t be so mean to your mother, you are lucky she is still alive.” I dropped the items I had in my hands and darted out of the store before either the mother or daughter could react. My girlfriends who have also lost their mothers have all had similar experiences, so we motherless daughters do our best to avoid the mall in early May.

My new normal Mothers Day has been to call the people I need to acknowledge and then do my best to pretend that it is just another Sunday. Mothers Day is one of the days that I feel her loss more intensely. This year I have been feeling like I should step out of the safety of my comfort zone and do something – perhaps visit my mother’s grave although mom would prefer I give the flowers to someone living to enjoy like someone in a nursing home who doesn’t get visitors or invite my aunt to dinner because that’s what my Mom would do if she was still alive. I make no promises except that I will do whatever feels right to me even if that means staying home waiting for Monday to come once again.